Spirit of Australia

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Spirit of Australia in which Ken Warby set the world water speed record in 1978 on Blowering Dam, New South Wales, Australia. In the Australian Maritime Museum in Sydney.

Spirit of Australia is a wooden speed boat built in a Sydney backyard, by Ken Warby, that broke and set the world water speed record on 8 October 1978.[1][2][3]

The record and boat[edit]

On 8 October 1978, Ken Warby rode the Spirit of Australia on the Tumut River near the Blowering Dam in Australia on opposite direction runs of 492.813 km/h (306.220 mph; 266.098 kn) and 529.412 km/h (328.961 mph; 285.860 kn),[4] for an official record of 511.11 km/h (317.59 mph; 275.98 kn),[5][6] with a peak speed of 555 km/h (345 mph; 300 kn).[4] It was powered by a Westinghouse J34 jet engine. The engine was developed by the Westinghouse Electric Company in the late 1940s and was used for jet fighters and other aircraft. Spirit of Australia is displayed permanently at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales.

Built in a Sydney backyard in the 1970s the world's fastest boat Spirit of Australia is now a permanent feature at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Ken Warby designed, built and drove Spirit of Australia to a phenomenal 511 km/h in the 1970s...and his world record still stands today.

By 1974 Spirit of Australia was launched and he was ready to start his first trials. Warby climbed into the cockpit and proved he had a great success - setting an Australian record of 267km/h, but a long way short of the 458.98 km/h world record.

Warby continued to trial his boat, gradually increasing his Australian record. On 20 November 1977 he first succeeded in breaking the world record, with a speed of 464.44 km/h, but shy of breaking the 500 km/h barrier he was ultimately seeking.

It wasn't until a year later, on 8 October 1978, that Ken smashed his own world record with an amazing time of 511.11 km/h on Blowering Dam near Tumut, NSW - setting a new world water speed record which has never been beaten.

Since 1978 there have been a number of attempts at breaking Warby's world water speed record. None has succeeded, some have been fatal.

Australian National Maritime Museum


Starting in the early 1990s, Warby built a second jet boat, Aussie Spirit powered with a fresh Westinghouse J34, but he never made a record attempt with it.[7] Warby and his son Dave are currently working on a new boat Spirit of Australia II, powered by a Bristol Siddeley Orpheus jet engine taken from an Italian Fiat G.91 fighter.[8][9][10] The new Spirit of Australia II was completed in December 2004. In 2007 Ken handed over the reins to his son David, who hit 314 km/h (195 mph; 170 kn) on a testing run on Blowering Lake in 2018.[11] As of 22 May 2021 the team are still modifying the design. [12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Spirit of Australia". kenwarby.com.
  2. ^ "Spirit of Australia - Ken Warby". solarnavigator.net.
  3. ^ "The world's fastest boat...Spirit of Australia". anmm.gov.au. Australian National Maritime Museum.
  4. ^ a b Worlds Fastest Boat (all 4). YouTube. 4 August 2008 [1978]. 3 minutes in. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Water speed record (fastest boat)". guinnessworldrecords.com. Guinness World Records. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  6. ^ "Union of International Motorboating Record". uimpowerboating.com.
  7. ^ "Aussie Spirit". Warby Motorsport. Archived from the original on 4 March 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  8. ^ Huxley, John (14 February 2015). "The Warby need for speed". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  9. ^ "David Warby hopes to claim his dad's world water speed record on Blowering Dam in 2017". No. The Leader. 30 December 2016. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  10. ^ "SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA II". Warby Motorsport. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  11. ^ Jefferies, Chris (20 May 2021). "Fastest boat: The 4 current contenders for the world water-speed record". Motor Boat & Yachting. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  12. ^ warbyadmin (3 April 2021). "May 22nd &23rd tests back on Blowering Dam". Warby Motorsport. Retrieved 17 May 2022.

External links[edit]